Question: If one is trying to become a full-time student of knowledge, how should one earn a livelihood?
Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
Thank you for the important question.
The first thing to understand is that the whole point of learning is to apply the Sacred Law in one’s life. Earning a halal income is a personal obligation, and the two are not mutually exclusive. Many great imams worked to earn their living.
The quote that you cited from Zarnuji concerns being worried about having an income and not having reliance on Allah. Reliance on Allah is a personally obligatory state of the heart, while earning a halal income is a personally obligatory act of the limbs, so there is no contradiction.
On a practical level, one should try and find a line of work that fits some extent with your life goal of being a student of knowledge. In some countries, pursuing an academic career allows one to study and teach Sacred Knowledge as a full-time job. In many places, that is not an option. Being an imam of a mosque or teaching Arabic is also a possibility.
My advice would be to focus on doing something that pleases Allah, whether working as a plumber, doctor or becoming a Muslim scholar. Seek Allah, and don’t seek knowledge, and let Him pave the way for you.
‘So they returned with a [unfathomably] favor from Allah and a [great] bounty, without any harm having so much as touched them. And they diligently followed the pleasure of Allah, and Allah is the possessor of great bounty.’ (Qur’an, 3: 174)
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I pray this helps.
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years, he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.